The American Museum of Natural History in New York is one of the best museums in the world. It is known for its remarkable collection of different plants, rocks, and animal species, etc. With 26 buildings that are interconnected and 45 permanent halls for exhibition, this complex is a landmark in itself. There is a reason behind the increasing average number of visitors giving this place a visit every year. Of course this may be in part due to the huge popularity of The Night at the Museum movies!
This guide will not only share those reasons but help you make your way through the museum for a once in a life-time experience as well.
Akeley Hall of African Mammals
Located directly behind the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda is a two-story hall by the name of Akeley Hall, which showcases African Mammals. It was named after Carl Akeley who was a taxidermist. Twenty-eight dioramas were developed to highlight and showcase Africa’s ecosystem and the mammals that were endemic to them. Upon visiting the hall, you will see a very popular centerpiece of eight giant elephants standing in an intimidating manner. Even though the dioramas were intended to feature mammals, but you will get to see a range of flora birds of that region as well. It has been 80 years since the Akeley Hall was constructed, and until now, the majority of the species that are featured have either gone extinct or are critically endangered.
Hall of Asian Mammals
The Hall of Asian Mammals is a one-story hall that is often referred to as the Vernay-Faunthorpe Hall of Asian mammals. The hall features eight dioramas that are complete, four dioramas that are partially complete, and six mammal habitat groups belonging to Burma, India. Nepal and Malaysia. Similar to the Akeley Hall, you will also get to see two Asian elephants shown as a centerpiece. In addition to that, there was a Siberian Tiger and a giant panda initially planned for the Hall of North Asian mammals as well, but now could be seen in the Hall of Biodiversity.
Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals
Featuring 43 dioramas is the Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals. It consists of animals belonging to the American continent as well as the north of tropical Mexico. Each diorama has been designed in such a way that it showcases and focuses on particular species. This includes some of the largest megafaunas to smaller animals, such as carnivorans and rodents. The most notable diorama that you will get to see is that of two Alaskan brown bears staring down at a fish.
Birds, reptiles and amphibian halls
Sanford Hall of North American Birds
Located on the museum’s third floor is a one-story hall by the name of Sanford Hall of North American Birds. The hall features 25 dioramas that showcase different species of birds across North America in their habitats that are native. The dioramas that you see in Sanford Hall were opened in 1909 and not only were the first to be exhibited but have become the oldest as well today.
Whitney Memorial Hall of Oceanic Birds
Founded in 1953, the Whitney Memorial Hall of Oceanic Birds has a fascinating history to tell. The initial idea of Leonard C. Sanford and Frank Chapman was to build a hall that showcased the birds of the Pacific Islands. While it was being built and founded, the museum became busy in expeditions to New Zealand, Fiji, and the Marianas to discover new species of birds so that they could be exhibited. Furthermore, the Butterfly Conservatory was developed in 1998 inside the hall, which was mostly a temporary exhibit, but it experienced ever-growing demands and visits. Therefore, the hall of Oceanic Birds has either remained close or opened for the public.
Biodiversity and environmental Halls
On the ground floor of the museum, there is a one-story hall which is the Hall of North American Forests. The hall consists of 10 dioramas that display various types of forests existing across North America, in addition to displays about conservation of forests and tree health. The hall was opened in 1959 and features plants and trees through dioramas that are made from a combination of actual bark, art supplies, and various other specimens.
Warburg Hall of New York State Environments
The Warburg Hall of New York State Environments was opened in 1951 and was initially named “Hall of Man and Nature.” The hall showcases different ecosystems of New York through a multi-faceted presentation. The presentation aims to show the season changes, soil changes, and the impact on the environment of both humans and non-humans.
Milstein Hall of Ocean Life
The Milstein Hall of Ocean life features botany, marine biology, and marine conservation. The biggest attraction of the hall is a model of a blue whale that suspends from the ceiling. The hall’s upper level highlights the different ecosystems in the ocean. Dioramas depict the life of the polar seal, coral reefs, kelp forests, and the bathypelagic in such differing settings by contrast and compare. The lower half of the hall is home to even more famous large marine dioramas such as the “Squid and the Whale,” the Andros Coral Reef Diorama and the 94-foot long blue whale model which is made of fiberglass.
Human Origins and Cultural halls
Hall of African Peoples
River Valley, Grasslands, Desert, and Forest-woodland, are the four types of ecosystems that prevail in Africa, and the Hall of African People displays just that. Each section highlights the people living in different ecosystems, under various settings through exhibits and artifacts. There are three dioramas in the hall in addition to some exhibits that are quite notable such as the spiritual costume collection that is on display in the section of Forest-Woodland. The parts of the halls are brought together by a comparison of the African societies based on cultivation, hunting, animal domestication, and gathering.
Hall of Mexico and Central America
The Hall of Mexico and Central America presents artifacts that are both prehistoric and archaeological belonging to pre-Columbian civilizations such as the Olmec, Zapotec, Maya, and Aztec, existing across Middle America once. Since there is no proof left by these civilizations, the hall aims to find out and bring together anything that allows the visitors to get to know about them through the artifacts alone.
Hall of Northwest Coast Indians
The Hall of Northwest Coast Indians was opened in 1900 and was initially known as “Jesup North Pacific Hall.” It is a one-story hall that is the oldest hall of an exhibition located in the museum. The hall was given several makeovers to maintain a fresh look and features exhibits and artifacts of the North Pacific Coast tribes.
Fossil Halls: Displayed Fossils
The Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil has been built from real fossil bones. It stands up on its powerful legs that are a major source of attraction. The skeleton that you see on display comprises fossil bones that were discovered in 1902 in Montana and 1908 of two T.rex.
Brontops lived approximately 35 million years ago and share some characteristics with rhinoceros and the horse. It was identified by its two unusual and unique pairs of magnificent horns.
Brontosaurus or Apatosaurus
The Brontosaurus specimen was discovered in the 19th century’s end. Even though most of its skeleton consists of real fossil bones but the skull is not as it was not found until years later. At the moment, it is not confirmed as to whether the specimen is of a Brontosaurus or an Apatosaurus.
Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Gems and Minerals
The Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Gems and Minerals is home to unusual geological specimens. Upon visiting the hall, you will come across samples that have been specifically chosen amongst the 100,000 pieces of the museum. For instance, you will find Patricia Emerald, which is a 12-sided, 632 carat stone. It was discovered in the Colombian Andes in the 1920s and named after the daughter of the mine owner.
At the moment, Patricia remains as one of the very few uncut emeralds. Another emerald on display is the Star of India, which is a 563-carat star sapphire and is the most famous in the world. It was discovered in Sri Lanka around 300 years ago. Other notable collections include the DeLong Star Ruby, the Midnight Star, and the Eagle diamond. However, On October 29, 1964, all of these were stolen. Even though the Midnight Star, the DeLong Star Ruby, and the Star of India were recovered, however the Eagle Diamond was never found. It is assumed that it was either lost or recut.
The American Museum of Natural History is enormous and you will at least need an entire day and will still not be able to see everything. Therefore, this all-inclusive guide shortlists some of the famous halls and exhibits for you to checkout. It is going to be a full day’s adventure so be sure to give this guide a thorough read.